- Botanical: Prunus dulcis
- Family: Rosaceae, Amygdalus communis,
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FamilyRosaceae, Amygdalus communis,
Known asSweet Almond, Bitter Almond, Mandel, Bitter Mandel
Medicinalbile weakness, cancer, colds, coughs, cramps, digestion, laxative, kidney stones
Infection & Inflammationflu, throat infections
Respiratory Systemcough, pharyngitis, sore throat
Stomach & Intestinalabdominal pain, bladder stones, cancer, constipation, laxative, indigestion
The almond is a deciduous tree, growing 4–10 m (13–33 ft) in height, with a trunk of up to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. The young twigs are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year. The leaves are 3–5 inches long, with a serrated margin and a 2.5 cm (1 in) petiole. The flowers are white to pale pink, 3–5 cm (1–2 in) diameter with five petals, produced singly or in pairs and appearing before the leaves in early spring.
Properties & Uses
Other than medical uses:
An oil expressed from the seeds is an excellent lubricant in delicate mechanisms such as watches. It is often used in soaps and cosmetics because it has a softening effect on the skin. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and leaves. The bruised leaves, when rubbed within any container, will remove strong odours such as garlic or cloves so long as any grease has first been fully cleaned off. A gum from the stems is used as an adhesive. The burnt shell yields a valuable absorbent for coal gas. The burnt pericarp is rich in potassium, it is used in soap making. The seed contains amygdallin, under the influence of water and in the presence of emulsion it can be hydrolized to produce benzaldehyde
As well as being a tasty addition to the diet, almonds are also beneficial to the overall health of the body, being used especially in the treatment of kidney stones, gallstones and constipation. Externally, the oil is applied to dry skins and is also often used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy. The seed is demulcent, emollient, laxative, nutritive and pectoral. When used medicinally, the fixed oil from the seed is normally employed4]. The seed contains 'laetrile', a substance that has also been called vitamin B17. This has been claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer, but there does not at present seem to be much evidence to support this. The pure substance is almost harmless, but on hydrolysis it yields hydrocyanic acid, a very rapidly acting poison - it should thus be treated with caution. In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being. The leaves are used in the treatment of diabetes. The plant contains the antitumour compound taxifolin.
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Europe - East Mediterranean to Central Asia.
The almond is a nutritionally dense food and is a rich source of vitamin E, containing 26 mg per 100 g. They are also rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins, essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium, and potassium as well as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (see nutrient table), fats which potentially may lower LDL cholesterol.Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols such as Beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol, sitostanol, and campestanol, which have been associated with cholesterol-lowering properties.Potential health benefits, which have not been scientifically validated, include improved complexion and possibly a lower risk of cancer. Preliminary research associates consumption of almonds with elevating blood levels of high density lipoproteins and lowering low density lipoproteins. A preliminary trial showed that using them in the daily diet might lower several factors associated with heart disease, including cholesterol and blood lipids.
Almonds contain polyphenols in their skins consisting in a combination of flavonols, flavan-3-ols, hydroxybenzoic acids and flavanones analogous to those of certain fruits and vegetables.